By far the best nutrient for improving and repairing brain health are Omega-3 Fatty acids. These omega-3s enhance your brain’s plasticity and member fluidity, which lets you think clearer and remember quicker. They also may improve your brain’s metabolism, reducing the amount of free radicals around the brain which creates a less stressed brain. Intitial studies of people with mental health issues suggest a diet rich in omega-3s improve medications’ efficacy and overall improve patients’ symptoms.
Many of our doctors and health magazines have warned us of the dangers of eating too much fat. It’s true, saturated and trans fats can wreck havoc on our bodies. Omega-3s are shaped differently and work differently in your body. Omega-3s are found in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are essential in healthy diets. In fact, these fats lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease!
There are three types of omega-3s: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Most research has been conducted using DHA and EPA, including studies on EPA and mental health issues. Changing your diet to include more of any of them will help improve your brain function, as well as many other health benefits.
Find it in: Flaxseeds, walnuts, chia seeds, fresh soybeans
Suggested Servings: Sprinkle flaxseeds on top of your cereal or yogurt in the morning. Add a dash of walnuts to your salads at lunch. Order edamame as an appetizer. Make chia-seed pudding for dessert.
Be careful, cooking flaxseeds and walnuts can diminish the amount of omega-3 in them.
EPA and DHA
Find it in: Seafood, particularly cold saltwater fish and seaweeds
Suggested intake: Choose crab cakes over a burger. Give anchovy, sardines or pickled herring a try. Eat more sushi. Replace that steak with a salmon filet. Share a bucket of mussels.
You can also add an omega-3 supplement to your routine. Krill oil or algae oil supplements have proven to be the most shelf-stable and contain the least amount of contaminates of the supplements. Check the label of your supplement for the amount of omega-3 (as opposed to amount of oil) is in each capsule.
The simplest way to remember what foods are rich in omega-3: incorporate more seafood and nuts into your diet. Add a meal of fish and keep a bag of walnuts in your pantry, and you’ll be well on your way to a healthier brain.